British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told the House of Commons on Monday that Russian oligarchs with ties to President Vladimir Putin and who have investments in Britain would be affected by tough new sanctions if Moscow invaded. Ukraine strategy.
Truss on Sunday said she would introduce legislation that would inform Moscow of the “serious economic costs” of any incursion into Ukraine, by enhancing Britain’s ability to target Russian assets. in the UK.
It happened when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson replied Ukraine crisis by providing NATO with 900 more troops for deployment in Estonia, would double the size of Britain’s force in the Baltic country bordering Russia.
Johnson, who is scheduled to hold talks with the Russian president and visit Eastern Europe this week, has also offered to send fighter jets to Romania and Bulgaria and warships to the Black Sea.
Under current UK rules, which reflect EU agreements when Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014, Britain can only impose sanctions on Russians involved in Ukraine’s destabilization. .
Under Truss’ new law, the government can sanction “any person and business of economic or strategic significance to the Kremlin”, according to UK officials.
“At the moment, the economic sanctions that are drawn out are quite narrow, so we can only target companies that are directly involved in destabilizing Ukraine,” Truss told Sky News.
“What we are looking to do is expand on that, so any company interested in the Kremlin and the regime in Russia can be targeted, so there will be nowhere to hide. Putin’s oligarchs, for Russian companies involved in supporting the Russian State. ”
Asked if the new law would allow forfeiture of UK property owned by Russian oligarchs, Truss replied: “Nothing to discuss. . . What the law allows us to do is achieve much more goals. “
Pressed on whether the proposed new sanctions have an economic cost to the UK, Truss said “defending freedoms and democracy” is more important than “short-term economic gains”. term”.
Parliament’s intelligence and security committee said in 2020 that the City of London provided the “ideal mechanism” for illegal financial recycling, adding it had become a “laundromats”for wealth abroad.
A 2018 report by the House foreign affairs committee titled Moscow’s Gold concluded: “The current use of London as a base for corrupt assets by individuals connected to the Kremlin is clearly related to a broader Russian strategy and has implications for our national security. ”
The National Crime Agency has estimated that money laundering costs the UK more than £100 billion a year.
But last week it happened that the government had no plans to include in the Queen’s Speech – scheduled for May and setting out the legislation – a economic crime bill designed to curb abuses by shell companies and disclose the owners of offshore businesses holding UK assets.
Steve Goodrich, head of research at Transparency International, said an estimated £1.5 billion of UK property was purchased with dubious funds from Russia.
He added: “If the UK government wants to show it is serious about its pursuit of Russian money suspected of infiltrating the UK economy, they should include the economic crimes bill in the Queen’s Speech. . Failure to do so will give the impression that ministerial rhetoric is just a breath of hot air.”
Layla Moran, foreign affairs spokeswoman for the Liberal Democratic Party, said Truss needed to go further and target hidden UK assets owned by Russia.
She added: “It has been almost six years since the UK government first supported the idea of a disclosing register of foreign property owners, which would help put an end to landlords. The Kremlin-linked oligarchs launder their dirty money in our country.” “More than 2,000 days have passed, the Conservative government has failed to register.”
Lord Francis Dannatt, the former chief of staff, told Times Radio that Johnson’s domestic crisis over the deadlocked government parties had undermined his ability to deal with Ukraine.
“He’s going to go wherever he’s going in Eastern Europe this week, but people will know that he’s a man with a ticking time bomb sitting underneath,” he said.